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The psalmist’s plea for grace

May 6, 2024

Daily Scripture

Psalm 86:3-6, 14-15

3 Have mercy on me, Lord,
    because I cry out to you all day long.
4 Make your servant’s life happy again
    because, my Lord, I offer my life to you,
5     because, my Lord, you are good and forgiving,
    full of faithful love for all those who cry out to you.
6 Listen closely to my prayer, LORD;
    pay close attention to the sound of my requests for mercy.

14 The arrogant rise up against me, God.
    A gang of violent people want me dead.
    They don’t give a thought for you.
15 But you, my Lord,
    are a God of compassion (or grace) and mercy;
    you are very patient and full of faithful love.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

“I came to see that the image of God I had been raised with was woefully incomplete. I came to know a God who is, in the words of the psalmist, “a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” *

Psalm 86 drew on God’s self-description in Exodus 34:5-7, after Israel ignored the Exodus from slavery in Egypt and broke their covenant with God. Scholar John Goldingay wrote of Psalm 86, “While in one sense God is not bound to respond to us, in another sense God is bound to do so because it is God’s character, and God has to be true to himself. Yahweh is ‘the gracious God’…. It’s odd that people sometimes assume that the Old Testament is based on law and that only the New Testament is based on grace.” **

  • Have you ever thought, “I can’t pray—not after the way I blew it (with God and/or other people)”? Goldingay wrote of the prayer in Psalm 86: “Such prayer is based on who God is: good, forgiving, and long-tempered. These are not people who pretend they are sinless, but they know that God does not hold our sins against us when we face up to them before him. It is part of the nature of God’s own big commitment, to which our commitment is a response.” *** What helps you trust that you can always approach God, and especially after you’ve blown it?

  • As Dr. Goldingay wrote, too often people assume that only the “New Testament God” is gracious. Psalm 86 is one of a series of Old Testament passages (Exodus 34:6; Nehemiah 9:17; Joel 2:13) which communicated God’s amazing grace. The letter to the Hebrews quoted Psalm 118:6 and then exclaimed, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8). Why is it important to know that grace is central to God’s character, not a quality that comes and goes?


Lord Jesus, when I’ve gotten something wrong in my life, lead me to genuine inner sorrow and a desire to change. I thank you that for all of us “grace can trump justice.” Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood serves as a Worship Experience Specialist at The Church of the Resurrection. She loves all things related to worship and enjoys working with our talented team of staff and volunteers. One of her favorite things to read about and study are stained glass windows, and she considers herself very blessed to work and worship in a place with such a magnificent window.

Grace is one of the most beautiful and misunderstood concepts in Christianity. It’s often used interchangeably with forgiveness, but there’s a deeper dimension to grace that goes beyond simply overlooking our mistakes.

Maybe it’s because I’m more aware of my own shortcomings lately. The gap between the person I am and the person I want to be can feel so wide. And in that stark reality, grace isn’t some abstract theological concept anymore. It’s not a distant promise whispered from afar. It’s a real force in my life, a hand reaching out to steady me when I stumble, a voice whispering, “You are loved, even now.”

The Bible tells us that God’s grace is undeserved favor. It’s a gift of love and mercy that fills the wideness between where we are and where God knows we can be. This grace gives us the strength to keep going, even when we mess up. Slowly, I’m beginning to understand. Grace isn’t a reward for my achievements or a gold star for my successes. It’s the very air I breathe, the ground beneath my feet, even when I falter. It’s the unwavering knowledge that I am loved by God, exactly as I am, flaws and all.

It’s important to distinguish between grace and an excuse. Grace isn’t a license to sin or a hall pass to avoid responsibility for my actions. The Bible tells us that while God is loving and merciful, He’s also just. There are consequences to our actions. God’s grace doesn’t erase those consequences, nor does it absolve me of the responsibility to grow as a person. Grace is about God’s acceptance of me, flaws, and all while offering me the strength to overcome them. It’s God’s love for me that compels Him to offer me grace, even when I don’t deserve it.

The true beauty of grace unfolds when I live it out in my own life. When I extend the same radical acceptance and forgiveness to myself and others, the world around me begins to shift. A single act of compassion, a well-placed word of encouragement–these ripples of kindness, born from the wellspring of grace within, have the power to transform lives.

Perhaps the greatest challenge is truly accepting this gift. It means letting go of a self-worth based solely on achievements and embracing the inherent value God sees in me. It’s a daily practice, a conscious decision to quiet the inner critic and choose to believe the truth: I am worthy, not because of what I do, but simply because God says so. And in that acceptance, I find not only peace but also a profound sense of purpose. For when I am truly embraced by grace, I am empowered to extend that same grace to others, creating a ripple effect of love and acceptance that extends far beyond myself.

So, I hold on to this gift, this beautiful paradox of God’s love – undeserved, yet transformative. I let it be the compass that guides my steps, the melody that fills my heart, and the very essence of the life I choose to live.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Yancey, Philip. What’s So Amazing About Grace? Revised and Updated (p. 54). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** John Goldingay, Psalms for Everyone, Part 2: Psalms 73–150. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014, p. 52.
*** Ibid.